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Four finalists named for 2019 Paul Hornung Award

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The field for the award that fetes the nation’s most versatile college football player has been whittled down significantly.

Earlier Thursday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced the four finalists for the 2019 Paul Hornung Award that have been chosen by the 17-member selection committee.  And (surprise!), all four of the finalists come from Power Five conferences: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska).

All four of the finalists come from the offensive side of the ball and have spent time as return specialists as well.  Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last three games at quarterback for UK, with the Wildcats going 2-1 in that span.

Reed is primarily a wide receiver and Edwards-Helaire a running back, while Robinson has split his time between both positions.

The 2018 winner of the Hornung Award was Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who likely would’ve been given serious finalist consideration again this year if not for his season essentially being derailed by a lingering hamstring injury.

For all of the statistical particulars for each candidate, click HERE the award’s press release:

 

With No. 19 Wake Forest’s loss, ACC likely down to No. 5 Clemson as only team in CFP Top 25

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No. 5 Clemson is about to be alone.  Again.

The ACC entered Week 11 with exactly two teams ranked in the first College Football Playoff Top 25 — Clemson and No. 19 Wake Forest.  Exiting it, that number will likely be sliced in half as Wake, three-point road favorites coming in, was overwhelmed in the second half of a 36-17 loss to Virginia Tech.  After taking a 10-6 lead into the halftime locker room, the Demon Deacons were outscored 30-7 over the last two quarters to turn a close game into a rout.

The loss drops the Demon Deacons to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in ACC play.  Barring something unforeseen, Wake will spend exactly one week in the CFP rankings before falling out when the next Top 25 is released this coming Tuesday.

That would likely mean that not only will Clemson be the only ranked team in the conference, the Tigers will, at the moment, have exactly zero teams on its 2019 schedule that are currently ranked.  Texas A&M was ranked 12th when the two teams played in early September; the Aggies are now 6-3 and unranked.  Wake is next up for Clemson, and they too will (probably) join A&M in the ranks of the unranked.

At 7-3, Virginia might be able to slip into the lower end of the CFP Top 25, but the chances of that happening seem remote.

One final note: Wake still remains alive in the ACC Atlantic race.  If Clemson loses to NC State tonight… if Wake beats Clemson next week… and if Wake beats Duke and Syracuse the two weeks after that, then the demon Deacons would claim the division.

And, yes, I almost made it through typing that entire last sentence with a straight face.  Almost.

Big game by Bryce Perkins puts Virginia in ACC Coastal driver’s seat

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Anything is capable of happening in the ACC Coastal Division, but for at least one week it will be Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) that has the most control of the division. A 38-31 victory at UNC (4-5, 3-3 ACC) lifted Virginia into sole possession of first place in the ACC Coastal Divison with some key head-to-head tiebreakers in their pocket.

In a game that was highlighted by offense, neither team managed to score any points in the fourth quarter. A turnover on downs by UNC with just over a minute to play gave Virginia the football with nothing standing in the way of a win. A big game by Bryce Perkins certainly helped Virginia’s cause. Perkins completed 30 of 39 pass attempts for 378 yards and three touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, Perkins put the offense on his back and rushed for a game-high 12 yards and two more touchdowns to account for nearly all of Virginia’s scoring. He did not throw an interception.

UNC’s freshman quarterback Sam Howell had a big game too with 353 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Despite UNC having more total yards of offense, it was the little things that made the difference in this one. Both teams went 7-for-13 on third down, but Virginia converted its one fourth-down try while UNC was 0-for-3, including one from the Virginia 27-yard line in the second quarter and one more from the Virginia six-yard line in the fourth quarter. Neither team had a turnover but Virginia had just one penalty for five yards while UNC was flagged six times.

Virginia opened the season with a victory at defending Coastal champion Pittsburgh, 30-14. The Panthers are currently tied with Virginia in the loss column but with one fewer win and on the wrong end of the head-to-head result, Pitt cannot pass Virginia unless the Cavaliers have more losses than them. UNC, Miami and Duke are all with three losses. Virginia Tech also has two losses in conference play, but Virginia will face the rival Hokies in the final game of the regular season.

Virginia will be home next week to face Georgia Tech, who was defeated by Pitt earlier in the day to fall to 2-6 overall and 1-4 in ACC play. A win by the Cavaliers will inch Virginia one step closer to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game.

North Carolina may have not be mathematically eliminated from the race but will need Virginia to lose twice. UNC will get a road game at Pitt in two weeks (Thursday, Nov. 14) for a chance to stay alive if Virginia stumbles next week). The Tar Heels will be off next weekend.

In battle for ACC Coastal control, UNC and Virginia deadlocked at halftime

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In a battle to seize control of the ACC Coastal, Virginia and North Carolina are knotted in a 17-17 tie in Chapel Hill. Virginia drew even with North Carolina with a Bryce Perkins touchdown pass to Hasise Dubois just 13 seconds before halftime.

The Tar Heels and the Cavaliers were tied at 10-10 until Sam Howell completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dyami Brown for a 17-10 lead. Earlier in the second quarter, Howell and Brown connected on a 47-yard score to tie the game at 10-10. The go-ahead touchdown came after the Tar Heel defense forced a three-and-out after the game had been tied.

Virginia has not been able to run the football, with quarterback Bryce Perkins running for 14 yards on 11 carries to lead the team. Perkins picked up the only Virginia touchdown of the half on a short touchdown run from the one-yard line in the first quarter.

The ACC Coastal championship picture may not exactly be cleaned up for good regardless of who wins this game, but the winner will be in the position to have the ultimate hand in determining what happens in the division race that is once again up for grabs.

Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts headline Unitas Golden Arm Award finalists

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The list of candidates for one of the premier quarterbacking awards in college football has been further whittled.

Wednesday, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award announced its initial list of 10 finalists.  Eight of those 10 come from Power Five schools, including three from the Pac-12, while the other two hail from Group of Five programs.

Below are those 10 finalists, in alphabetical order:

  • Ian Book, Notre Dame
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Jacob Eason, Washington
  • Justin Herbert, Oregon
  • Tyler Huntley, Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
  • Bryce Perkins, Virginia
  • Nate Stanley, Iowa
  • Zach Thomas, Appalachian State
  • Brady White, Memphis

Wait a minute, no Tua Tagovailoa?  No Justin Fields?  Blasphemy!

It’s at this point in the program where I give our annual reminder to those with such thoughts that this award is given yearly to the top signal-caller in the country who is either a senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class and takes into account his accomplishments both on and off the field.

Last year’s winner was Washington State’s Gardner Minshew.  The first winner, handed out in 1997, was Tennessee’s Peyton Manning.